Spina Bifada and Daily Life Tasks

A dissertation written by an OT doctoral student focused on 50 children (ages 6-14 years old) with spina bifada. Using the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS), the quality of performance of everyday tasks was compared between the children with spina bifada, international age norms and a control group of typically developing Nordic children. In addition, the autonomy levels of the children were rated by the children themselves and the parents. Furthermore, the children and their teachers rated their participation in school activities. The School Function Assessment was completed by the teachers. The results indicated the following:
1. Most of the children with spina bifada had difficulties completing well-known everyday activities in an effortless, efficient, safe and independent way.

2. The low quality of task performance, especially the process skills, was strongly related to both the children’s level of autonomy in daily life and their level of active participation in school.

3. The children with spina bifada had low autonomy levels in goal-directed situations that needed personal initiation.

4. Parents’ and children’s ratings of the children’s autonomy level indicated low agreement between the two groups.

5. Children with spina bifada participated in more school activities in high school.

The author concluded that occupational therapists need to support and encourage autonomy in everyday tasks for children with spina bifada.

In a school setting therapists can perhaps put techniques in place that will help children with spina bifada initiate activity. Here are some suggestions:

  • visual schedules with steps that are necessary to complete the task – this will allow the student to see what step number one is to initiate the activity.
  • written or visual reminders of what tasks need to be accomplished – at desk there could be a check list of what needs to be done before school begins i.e. put book bag away, hang up coat

Do you observe in your everyday practice that children with spina bifada have difficulties initiating every daily tasks? Do you find that children with spina bifada can perform daily tasks but may not be fully independent in finishing the tasks?

You can read the thesis in its entirety here.

Reference: Marie Peny-Dahlstrand. To get things done, the challenge in everyday life for children with spina bifida Quality of performance, autonomy and participation. Dissertation published in September 2011 for the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology Sahlgrenska Academy University of Gothenburg

Dressing Skills is a 24 page booklet that provides visual directions of how to:

* put on a shirt
* put on pants in standing
* put on pants in sitting
* put on a coat
* put on a coat with the flip method.

Find out more.